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January 07, 2010

Essentially Extensibility

By Erik Linask, Group Editorial Director

The past year has been nothing short of remarkable in the communications space. The innovative products and solutions that have become a hallmark of the industry continued to be introduced, almost with an ignorance of the global economic situation. That drive to create new communications products has, of course, been tempered by the traditional delay between development and adoption, which was underscored by the economy.
However, the introduction of new products and services, particularly in the service provider space, cannot stall – customers have an unquenchable thirst for innovation, which has created a dilemma of sorts. Specifically, service providers, network operators, and even enterprises, have a distinct need to evolve their capabilities, while continuing to leverage their existing infrastructures, which is something Aculab (News - Alert) has emphasized with its product line.
To find out more about extensibility and what Aculab has in store for ITEXPO, I took time to ask sales and marketing Chris Gravett a few questions. Many of his thoughts will be the topics of a number of exciting conference sessions in Miami.
EL:          What are your reflections of 2009, at best, a challenging year for most businesses, yet one that brought success to many in the telecom industry?
CG:         While some deployment decisions were delayed, or even cancelled, due to capital restraint, Aculab has come through the recession remarkably well. Perhaps the most interesting outcome is the growing interest in ‘extensibility.’ While many of our customers do not have – or are not willing to invest in – CAPEX projects, they, nonetheless, must integrate new services and capabilities into their offerings if they are to remain competitive. Many of these customers have correctly identified Aculab’s enabling technologies as the most prudent path for integrating these advanced capabilities into existing infrastructure. Even as the economy continues to improve, we see an even greater emphasis being placed on extensibility as a cost-effective alternative to the expensive and disruptive ‘rip and replace’ methodologies that many other vendors have touted.
EL:          What is/are the most significant trend(s) to come out of 2009 that will drive the IP Communications space into the next decade?
CG:         We see the integration of new services into legacy systems as a key growth market. This can come in many forms, like adding 3G video services to a mobile provider’s portfolio, enhancing enterprise productivity by integrating SIP-based functionality like presence management and collaboration tools, or enabling enhanced HD Voice solutions over a telco network. Business communications comprise much more than voice and internet access today. Enabling seamless integration of VoIP, data services, video, mobility, presence applications, enhanced call centers, wireless communications, and legacy networks and applications, is the key to meeting the evolving needs of businesses and consumers.
EL:          Will 2010 be the year HD audio takes off? If not, when?
CG:         HD Voice is getting a lot of attention. However, the biggest impediment to mainstream adoption is integration of IP and legacy TDM network infrastructure. When an HD Voice call can have guaranteed end-to-end HD transmission capability, there should be a strong adoption curve. Enabling HD Voice in gateways and core network switches will determine how long this will take. Aculab’s support of numerous standard and proprietary HD codecs is an enabler for the roll-out of these next generation IP gateways.
The adoption is many-faceted. Network providers need to roll out the technology and the consumers have to adopt it based on its value proposition to them, weighing the ease of use, its accessibility, and its price (currently there is a price premium) versus the quality benefit on offer. When all these things come into line, then we will have hit mainstream.
EL:          How will your company build on the momentum of the past decade to continue on a growth path into 2010 and beyond? What new and innovative products are in store for your customers?
CG:         Dual Redundant SIP is proving a must have in many sectors when making the move to IP. We are proud to have invested in such a development and have been first to market. We expect to bring two new ApplianX products to market this year – a 3G Video Gateway (News - Alert) and an Advanced Media Server. The latter will bring the benefits of Aculab’s core technologies to many new communities wishing to speedily bring communications solutions to market.
We see that HD Voice codecs have the opportunity to greatly enhance conferencing solutions. Aculab continues to support our developer partners by adding several HD Voice codecs that enable better quality audio conferencing.
Geographically, we are planning for tenfold growth from the Indian sub-continent over the next 18 months.
EL:          What is the most important reason your booth is a “must visit” for ITEXPO (News - Alert) attendees?
CG:         Visitors looking for a reliable and consistent enabling technology partner offering cost effective, deployment proven, high performance IP and media processing boards and software, communications appliances, and gateways should most definitely visit the Aculab booth.
In addition to the planned product releases and enhancements described above, we have a complete product range to suit many market applications and sectors. These include high performance inbound/outbound contact center applications; speech enabled VoiceXML (News - Alert), IVR and self-service systems; fax and voice broadcast; conferencing; unified communications; messaging; military communications; emergency response; prepaid; and hosted IP-based services.
It is our exemplary product capabilities, coupled with our high levels of support and responding to customers' needs that sets us apart. We welcome visitors to our booth (#607) to meet the high-level delegates from across the Aculab global offices to discuss our products and technologies.
EL:          What are you looking forward to most at ITEXPO East 2010?
CG:         Most importantly, we look forward to meeting with the visitors, understanding their requirements and assessing how Aculab can fulfill them.
From a technology standpoint, we see that HD Voice codecs have the opportunity to greatly enhance conferencing solutions. While HD Voice as a technology can enhance many areas of communications, it is particularly germane for the many conferencing providers that must now compete on the quality of audio. On this topic, we are pleased to highlight that Andrew Nicholson, Aculab’s Product Manager will be participating in the following session talking about how HD Voice is gaining momentum: Delivering Superior Voice with HD Codecs (Thursday, January 21, 2010, 8:30-9:15am).
Aculab is optimistic that it will continue to experience growth in 2010, especially as more and more service providers, enterprises and developers seek the most efficient means of delivering new capabilities while preserving their network infrastructures. Our proven ability to extend the lifecycles of our customer’s infrastructure investment will resonate just as much in a growth economy as it did during the recession. We look forward to experiencing a very vibrant and productive three days at ITEXPO East 2010.
EL:          What is the one product you are hoping to see from the communications industry in 2010?
CG:         There are many interesting developments occurring in the areas of mobility and in green technology. Solutions that preserve and extend the efficiency and effectiveness of today’s systems offer a compelling and cost-effective alternative to wasteful and expensive “rip and replace” strategies. We believe new solutions that allow providers and businesses to leverage their existing infrastructures will continue to garner attention – whether or not the economy recovers.
With such futuristic deployments as IP network routers in space satellites, mobile video conferencing, and high-fidelity voice communications over the telephone network already a reality, the ‘outrageous’ becomes the expected within a relatively short time. But, perhaps we could see some unexpected developments in 2010, like the first U.S. Presidential speech delivered over a mobile video-capable smartphone using HD Voice.
Aculab is a Diamond sponsor of ITEXPO East 2010. To be held Jan. 20 to 22 in Miami, ITEXPO is the world’s premier IP communications event. Visit Aculab in booth #607. Don’t wait. Register now.

Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erik Linask

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